Fall 2013
Nate Silver to present at NC State
Nate Silver

In celebration of the International Year of Statistics, the NC State Department of Statistics is proud to announce that Nate Silver, author of the best-selling book The Signal and the Noise, will be delivering a special lecture at the university. This invitation-only event is generously sponsored by the department's friends and supporters in the JMP Division at the SAS Institute.

Silver earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 2000. After working as an economic consultant, Silver became interested in statistics through baseball. He developed the PECOTA system for projecting player performance and worked for Baseball Prospectus from 2003 to 2008. Silver then applied his statistical thinking to the game of politics, publishing his analysis in his New York Times political blog FiveThirtyEight.com, named after the number of votes in the Electoral College. He gained national fame in 2008 and 2012 for predicting the outcomes of the presidential elections, the latter with 100 percent accuracy in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. More recently, he was invited to the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings by ASA President Dr. Marie Davidian (at left with Silver in the above photo) to deliver the invited speaker address.

His NC State presentation, "Celebrating Statistics: The Signal and the Noise," will take place in the new Hunt Library on October 10, followed by a reception. To learn more about the event or to obtain tickets, email Nikki Cofield at NateSilverEvent@stat.ncsu.edu.

Photo courtesy of the American Statistical Association

Amazing experiences at the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings
Stu Hunter and Dr. Fuentes

The start of August always marks an exciting event in the department, the Joint Statistical Meetings, and this year was no exception. The week-long conference was held this year in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and many of the participants felt that the beautiful city was worth the international travel. More than 5,800 people attended JSM this year, making it the 5th largest in JSM history. The department was represented by 27 faculty members, 29 graduate students, and 5 undergraduate students, in addition to many of our esteemed alumni.

The meetings started with ASA Presidential address from our own Dr. Marie Davidian, followed by her invited speaker, the renowned Nate Silver. Silver focused on the links between statistics and journalism and offered a set of principles for journalists reporting statistical findings.

The most anticipated event was the annual JSM reception for the department's friends and alumni. Dr. Montserrat Fuentes, head of the department, was pleased to talk with alumni Dr. Stuart Hunter, an emeritus professor at Princeton University. Hunter is a highly influential experimental statistician and continues to support the department in various ways. Also during the reception, Dr. Sujit Ghosh enjoyed catching up with a former student, Dr. Steven McKay Curtis. Curtis works as a Decision Scientist for The Walt Disney Company, and Ghosh enjoyed learning about his former student's diverse statistical challenges and numerous Disney benefits. "How many statisticians can claim to have worked for Disney?" Ghosh said.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this another memorable JSM. We look forward to seeing you at next year's conference in Boston.

NC State faculty members honored at JSM

During the recent Joint Statistical Meetings, three of our faculty members received very special awards.

The Journal of Statistics Education (JSE) honored Dr. Roger Woodard and Dr. Herle McGowan with the 2012 Jackie Dietz Best Paper Award for their paper "Redesigning a Large Introductory Course to Incorporate the GAISE Guidelines." Their manuscript focused on integrating the ASA's recommendations from the 2005 Guidelines for Assessment and Instructions in Statistics Education (GAISE) college report into the department's introductory statistics course.

The ASA Environmental Statistics Section (ENVR) honored Dr. Brian Reich with the 2013 Young Investigator Award. This award is given to talented young scientists who are making significant contributions to the theory and practice of environmental statistics.

Congratulations to Roger, Herle, and Brian!

Department launches online certification program
Students and Laptop

While demand for statistics credentials is increasing, many people are interested in online training. For this reason, the Department of Statistics is launching an online program, which will be rolled out over the next several months. This initiative is being directed by Dr. Roger Woodard.

This online program will offer both a distance education master's degree and three graduate certificates in Applied Statistics, Statistical Computing, or Statistics Education. The Applied Statistics and Statistical Computing certificates are geared towards working professionals enhancing their careers with skills in statistical analysis or statistical programming. The Statistics Education certificate is targeted towards teachers without a statistics background but want to teach a statistics course at the level of a community college or 4-year school.

The course requirements for the distance education master's will be the same as the traditional face-to-face program currently offered, even as it is updated to match graduate students' current needs in the field. The certificate programs will require students to complete a program of four courses, making it ideal for individuals who can only handle one or two classes per semester. All of the courses will be available online, with video recordings of lectures from the professor. Students will, however, have the option to take some courses as traditional lecture classes. Look forward to more information about this program as it moves forward.

Welcoming new students, faculty, and staff
New Students in Fall 2013

At the annual Ice Cream Social, the Department of Statistics extended a warm welcome to all of our personnel over a delicious bowl of cold "Howling Cow" ice cream. This highly anticipated event kicks off every academic year and allows everyone to meet the new and returning students, staff, and faculty members.

This year, we have 32 new graduate students and 21 incoming undergraduate students, making this the largest undergraduate class ever. We have four new staff members this year: David Churchill, Kathleen Roth, Nikki Cofield, and Dana Derosier, and we have seven new faculty members: Brian Eder, Emily Griffith, Justin Post, Armin Schwartzman, Webster West, Alyson Wilson, and Fred Wright. Welcome to the department!

NC State will host ASA Chapter Symposium

The Department of Statistics and the North Carolina Chapter of the American Statistical Association are delighted to sponsor a one-day conference on October 12, 2013, in celebration of the International Year of Statistics. Interested participants should register before September 29 for the early-bird registration fee or before October 10 for the regular registration fee.

In addition to the two plenary talks from Marie Davidian (NC State) and Ross Leadbetter (UNC Chapel Hill), there will be a lunchtime poster presentation and technical talks for students and young researchers to present their work. Students wanting to present a poster or talk should submit abstracts by September 22.

Fred Wright awarded grant for genetic modeling research
Fred Wright

Dr. Fred Wright, professor in the Department of Statistics, has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, titled "Systems approaches to link tissue-specific expression to disease." Under the award, which includes personnel from the UNC-CH Departments of Genetics and Statistics/Operations Research, Wright and colleagues will develop models for genetic regulation in various human tissues. The results will be used to help link established genetic disease associations to specific causal mechanisms.

Alumni Spotlight: Martha Gardner
Martha Gardner

In appreciation of our outstanding alumni, we interview Martha Gardner. Gardner earned her doctorate in 1997 and currently works as chief scientist at General Electric Global Research. She was listed as one of MIT Technology Review's "Top 100" young innovators in 2004 and was awarded the 2011 Medal of Achievement from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. In 2014, she will be serving as a Vice President of the American Statistical Association. We asked Gardner for some memories and words of wisdom from her time at NC State and at GE.

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